Should You Buy A Neck Pillow: Is It Worth It?

Travelling can be an uncomfortable experience: especially when dealing with long plane or car rides. We may not be traveling as much these days due to Covid restrictions, but comfort is still something to consider.

Have you ever found yourself trying to configure your neck into the perfect position so that you can finally get some rest during a long day of travel? 

Have you woken up from a travel nap and discovering neck pain and tightness in your back region? Those plane headrests are not comfortable.

If so, you’re not alone. Most people struggle to stay comfortable throughout their travels and are in search of solutions for a more peaceful and healthy travel experience, whether it's their first time on a plane or they're frequent flyers. 

That’s where the neck pillow comes in. You’ve seen them on airplanes—and maybe you’re wondering if they can actually bring relief and make you more comfortable with the added neck support. 

Unfortunately, not many of us are lucky enough to have the ability to fall asleep instantly despite discomfort. 

Buying a carry-on travel neck pillow that goes above and beyond to provide optimal comfort for long-haul flight can provide some incredible benefits to help you get rid of that stiff neck. 

In this article, we’re going to take you through some of the things you should look for when setting out to buy the best travel pillow for you and determine whether or not the purchase is worth it. 

Let’s dig in. 

What Should You Look For In The Perfect Neck Pillow?


young couple take a selfie

First and foremost, as with any great pillow, you will want to consider comfort as the leading factor. What type of pillow will be the most comfortable partly depends on personal preference, but there are some pillow options that are better than others.

Optimal sleep and restfulness are sourced from comfort. You’ll want to get a neck pillow that allows for your head to rest in all sorts of places and positions so that your particular preferences are met. 

Keep in mind that you will most likely be using a neck pillow while sitting up, so an enhanced U-shaped design with ergonomically raised lobes is most likely to deliver maximum benefit while you're sitting against your seat back. 

Comfort looks different for everyone. That’s why the pillow you choose should be catered to your specific needs. Do you prefer memory foam? Do you want gel-infusion for extra relief? Are you a side sleeper or a back sleeper? These are the types of questions you will want to consider. 


Unfortunately, cheaper versions of neck pillows can wear out quickly. While they may be comfortable for the first couple of flights, they are prone to sagging and losing their firmness. 

It’s important that you do your research and look over customer reviews of the product before you go forth with your purchase. 

Memory foam pillows that are built with quality materials and offer detailed product descriptions that demonstrate specific benefits are most likely to stand the test of time. 

Don’t get on your connecting flight and find that your pillow isn’t up to the task! 


neck pillow near suitcase

Regardless of the type of travel—whether it be by plane, car, or bus—one thing is for sure: you are going to be on the move. 

That’s why it’s so important that your pillow is transportable. It can be pretty annoying to carry around without a bag that is specifically designed for the product. For example, microbead pillows tend to not be as comfortable because the beads can move around during transport.

You’ll also want to be able to fold and stuff your pillow without fear that it might not reclaim its original shape. Quality and thoughtful craftsmanship can go a long way! 

You may want to know if your memory foam travel pillow is machine washable or if it has a removable velcro and velour cover as well, so that you can make sure it's fresh and clean each time that you use your support pillow.

Avoiding the Inflatable Pillow

You know what it’s like to sleep on an air mattress: it should only be reserved for dire situations. 

Planes, cars, and busses are already uncomfortable enough as it is. So why would you compound these complications by going inflatable on your next road trip? 

Inflatable pillows are convenient in that they can be deflated for easy transport, but at what cost? With inflatable pillows, you’re sure to encounter decreased levels of comfort, less durability, and poorer sleep. 


You shouldn’t have to break the bank to experience long-term, dependable comfort while you travel. 

Just because a pillow is the most expensive doesn’t necessarily make it the best product for you. You should consider factors like:

  • Does the pillow provide ventilation? Is is orthopedic?
  • Does the pillow come with an entire set, including earplugs, sleep masks, and a method of transport? 
  • Are there adjustable straps to keep your pillow in place? 

You can get a lot of bang for your buck if you find a memory foam neck pillow that has awesome additional features. Sets like this are available for under $30, which is probably less than you paid to check your bag, and it comes with travel accessories like an eye mask and ear plugs perfect for your next trip or ten hour flight! 

Are There Drawbacks To Travel Pillows?

When it comes to sleep, you don’t want to mess around. 

While there isn’t a ton of research surrounding the effectiveness of neck pillows, there are tons of consumers out there who swear by them. 

Your head is heavy. In fact, it weighs approximately 10 pounds. 

Keeping it upright while sitting on a plane isn’t easy, especially because it loves to tip forward during air travel. 

Traditional U-shaped pillows don’t provide very much side support to prevent lateral movement. They also offer virtually no support in the front, where the chin tips forward. 

Additionally, the rounded back isn’t likely to conform well with the seat on an airplane or in your car. 

That’s why it’s so important to go with the advanced technology that has been developed in recent years and go with a pillow that addresses these common issues. 

Pillows made with memory foam (or better yet—gel-infused memory foam!) will fit the back of your seat much better than the travel pillows made with traditional fillers like polyester or cotton. 

Adjustable straps for great stability can also help to prevent your head from wobbling laterally. These straps can also be tightened to provide frontal support without the feeling of being choked or constricted by your pillow. 

With the wrong travel pillow, there might be some drawbacks. Ten years ago, we might not have recommended them for more comfortable travel.

But with the latest revolutions in neck pillow technology, people are sleeping better on planes than ever before. It’s all about finding the pillow with the right features for you and making sense of what materials have been proven to increase comfort levels while you sleep. 

What’s The Best Way To Buy? 

It can be tempting to snatch a traditional U-shaped pillow from one of the shops in the airport. They’ve all got them, and at first glance, they look rather comfortable. 

However, airports know that you are desperate for comfort. With this, they mark up the cost and make the pillows with materials that are inexpensive and likely to wear out. 

The best practice for buying a neck pillow is to plan ahead, do some research online, and order a pillow with a good warranty. 

Reading customer reviews is one of the best ways to determine which pillow you should go with. If other people have found comfort, you’re likely to do the same. 

While it might not be possible to test a neck pillow out before your journeys (as it's hard to simulate travel), a consideration of what essential features you will need can go a long way. 

For example: if you tend to sleep forward with your chin facing down while seated upright, you’ll want a strap on your neck pillow to provide support. 

Any company that truly believes in their pillow will offer a lifetime replacement guarantee. If the pillow is truly durable, the company will have your back in replacing it, should anything happen to it. 

Don’t get stuck with an overpriced knockoff product from the magazine store next to your gate. Plan for comfortable travel appropriately, and get your optimal neck pillow in advance! 

Is Buying A Neck Pillow Worth It After All?

Neck pillows are a hot topic. 

Since the dawn of modern travel, people have been looking for solutions to rest more comfortably in the car, on airplanes, and on buses. 

With advancements in modern designs that have enhanced the traditional U-Shape, neck pillows might just be the solution for you to get better sleep while you travel. 

Quality materials like memory foam paired with additional features such as adjustable straps, an ergonomic design, and gel-infused ventilation have made neck pillows a real option for many desperately uncomfortable travelers. 

You don’t have to feel like you’re getting ripped off at the airport by buying a polyester or cotton neck pillow at a marked-up price. 

With careful research and a commitment to planning for your travels ahead, you can get an awesome pillow at a price that makes sense (less than $30!). 

If you’re looking for a more comfortable travel experience, then a neck pillow is probably for you

Get ready to say goodbye to awkwardly shifting in your chair in an attempt to find the perfect spot to rest your head. 

With the right neck pillow, you’ll be comfortable the second you lay your head back. You will be the person that instantly slips into a restful nap and stays asleep for the entire journey. 

Heck—you might even be to sleep before takeoff. And remember—the plane isn’t crashing—it’s just landing. You’ve slept through your entire flight!


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